Oxford Study Program students sow Gospel seeds, learn heritage in Europe
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Two dozen people flew across the ‘pond’ to Oxford University this summer to learn history by immersion and to spread the Gospel in an area where the light of Christ used to shine bright but has since grown dim. During the trip, 19 students earned credit for classes in ecclesiology, Baptist heritage and evangelism.
Malcolm Yarnell, associate professor of systematic theology and director of the Oxford Study Program, says the trip offers students an unrivaled hybrid scholarship-evangelism experience.
“There’s nothing better than being able to walk and see where Thomas Cranmer and Hugh Latimer were burned at the stake because they believed that salvation was by grace through faith alone,” Yarnell said. “There’s nothing like hearing one of our seminary professors preach from the church of William Carey, the father of the modern missions movement; or to hear a lecture on the relationship of Calvinism and evangelism in Andrew Fuller’s church; or to visit the church of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.”
Brandon Kiesling, a Master of Divinity student, said after spending three weeks in London with professors and fellow students, he whole-heartedly agrees with Yarnell.
“It was incredible,” Kiesling said. “I’m not a history person, but this is the way to study history. One of the best things about this trip is that the professors would teach us as we went. You’re not just hearing it, but you’re seeing it, so you’re having all these different ways of learning. It just makes it stick.”
Assistant Professor of Evangelism Matt Queen taught and led the evangelism portion of the trip and said his advice to the students while they were in Great Britain was to not consider the soil but to cast the seed generously.
And they did. During the trip, one student led someone to the Lord and two other students talked a man out of committing suicide when they told him about the hope found in Christ.
Students spent two days in Oxford and two days in London completely devoted to evangelism, sharing the Gospel in the same ‘pub’ (American restaurant equivalent) in which C.S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkien met; in the streets and of Stratford-upon-Avon, where William Shakespeare was born and died; and on some of the most diverse street corners in the world. Yarnell says the diversity of London allows students to touch nearly every country and continent on the planet.
“Students had a cross-cultural experience in speaking the Gospel to others,” Yarnell said. “I love being able to share the Gospel with people, and to show students how it is done is really beneficial.”
Yarnell said the three-week trip also allows students and faculty time to build strong relationships. Eating meals and traveling together provides a unique opportunity for them to interact in different ways than they would on campus. Southwestern has been offering the Oxford Study Program for more than 20 years now and Yarnell says after another great year, he highly recommends it to college and seminary students.
“If you want to walk where our evangelical and Baptist forefathers walked and died for the faith, and if you want to learn to share your faith in a cross-cultural international context, and if you want to get to know your professors better, then you should come on the Oxford Program,” Yarnell said.